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Thea Scrimger

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De-Ice, De-Ice Baby

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Jan 17, 2014 9:31:00 AM

Homeowners NewsletterGraphCarols have been sung, presents have been opened, and New Years kisses have been planted. The holidays are officially over, and with more than two months of winter left, everyone can agree: it's cold. Winter is a harsh season and it's important to protect yourself as well as your home. As you don your extra layers, put on your thickest socks, and bundle up tight, safety comes first when you head outdoors.

With temperatures well below freezing, the winter wonderland of December has become January's slippery slope. Ice is everywhere, hanging from gutters and covering driveways, walkways, and sidewalks. Although it can be beautiful, it's also very dangerous, so we'd like to encourage you to take the appropriate precautions. The de-icing guide below will help keep you and your property ice-free this season.

Ice Dams

We aren't talking about creative seasonal cussing - an ice dam is actually something that occurs on your roof. Ice damming happens when snow and ice collect, usually at the eaves.

Heat escapes from the interior of the home into the attic through air leakage in the ceiling or poorly insulated sections of the attic, melting the snow on the roof above. As the snow melts, it runs down the roof until it encounters unmelted snow on the unheated eaves. There, it will refreeze. This process will continue until an ice dam is formed. If the dam is large enough, water will back up under the shingles and leak into the eaves, exterior walls, and building interior. 

Some roofs are more prone to ice damming than others. Ice dams are most commonly formed on roofs with low slopes or roofs that change from a steep slope down to a low slope. The largest dams tend to form over unheated areas, such as eaves, porches, and attached garages. Ice dams are also common above party walls and below skylights. 

Ice Dam Diagram

Ice damming doesn't necessarily happen every winter. Ice dams normally form after periods of heavy snowfall when daytime temperatures are at, or slightly above, freezing, and night time temperatures are below freezing. 

There are three major preventative measures to consider when approaching the issue of ice damming:

1. Adding attic insulation

The trick is to keep the attic, and therefore the roof surface, cold enough that the snow does not melt. 

This will work well depending on the attic in question. However, some attics have so many warm air leaks that it would be impossible to add enough insulation to fix the problem - which is why you should also consider the second approach.

2. Sealing the air leaks

In many cases, with proper sealing tools, a homeowner can take care of this task themselves. However, some situations require a specialist to find and fix the issue. Common air leakage paths include attic access hatches, ceiling light fixtures (especially potlights), and plumbing stacks. 

3. Improving attic ventilation

Additional attic venting can help to flush out excess warm air in the attic before it can heat up the roof and melt the snow.

Ice Dam

Salting & Other Ice Removal Alternatives

Ensuring your driveway and walkway are clear of ice and snow is imperative not only for your safety, but for the safety of others. Falls are a leading cause of injury in North America, and it is the homeowners' responsibility to keep their property accessible for visitors and pedestrians.

We know shoveling can be a pain in the back, but it's a fairly manageable chore. De-Icing, however, can be less straightforward.

There are a few natural methods you can undertake; we've listed our top four:

1. Salt

Salt is the most common treatment used to get rid of ice. It's cheap, effective, and easy to obtain. However, it's also corrosive, so it can damage human skin, pets' paws, and its runoff can affect nearby plants and vegetation. It can also damage concrete and masonry.

2. Urea

Urea is the second most common de-icer. It is a liquid, making it easy to apply to pathways, and more convenient to clean up. However, its state also means it can cause more damage to surrounding plants. It's also less convenient to purchase.

3. Alfalfa Meal

Alfalfa meal is a less popular solution. Like urea, it is a natural fertilizer; however it contains less nitrogen so it's a bit less damaging. It's a very effective de-icer, and due to its dry and grainy nature, it provides additional traction to those walking and driving on it. Unfortunately it is more difficult to purchase.

4. Sugar Beet Juice

Sugar beet juice is becoming a more popular method for de-icing, being adopted by many municipalities for winter road care, like Toronto and Niagara Region. The juice from sugar beets lowers the freezing point of water, and helps with de-icing. It is colorless, odorless, and harmless. However, it's more expensive than its salty counterpart and less convenient to purchase.

We hope our guide helps keep you free of ice dams, ice patches, and ice-related damage or injury. If there's a Home Inspection topic that we've yet to cover on our blog or in our newsletter, make sure to let us know via Twitter or Facebook and we'll do our best to help out.

Topics: Winter Tips, Home Inspection, Home Inspector Advice, Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips, Newsletter, Extreme Weather

Winter Weather & Wet Basements – Keeping Your Home Dry in Cold Temperatures

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Jan 10, 2014 10:35:00 AM

Winter StormAs much of North America feels the extreme cold temperatures brought on by the polar vortex, and southern Ontario is still recovering from the worst ice storm to hit in recent decades, we felt it pertinent to discuss some of the less sensational damage this weather can cause to homes, like moisture intrusion. When the ice storm broke a few weeks ago, we addressed the issue of frozen pipes and how to avoid them. We also provided a guide to facing prolonged power outages in freezing temperatures. These articles were in direct response to December’s storm, and although it was a disaster, and did require homeowner action, it was an anomaly. Winter weather brings more common issues, and it’s important that homeowners prepare for these items as well.

Wet Basement

Subzero temperatures can often translate to wet basements. Many believe that Spring, with its frequent downpours, is when they should be concerned about moisture intrusion in their home – and they are right. However, this isn’t the only time to think about this issue. Water damage requires year-round attention.

One of the major factors in keeping your home dry is maintaining your external water management systems: your gutters, downspouts, and window wells. When properly installed, these items are meant to direct water away from the home. However, as snow and ice accumulate, they clog these areas, trapping debris such as twigs, leaves, and litter in them ultimately making them less effective. To combat this issue homeowners must ensure:

  • Gutters are clear of debris.
  • Downspouts extend far enough away from the home - at least six feet from your foundation.
  • The bottom of your window well contains several inches of gravel to allow water to drain from the well.
  • A drainage pipe, filled with gravel (to prevent it from collapsing, but still allowing water to pass), should extend down the drainage tile around the perimeter of the footing (if one exists) of your window well. If your window well does not have this, a clear plastic dome should be installed over the window well to keep water and debris out. You may have to dig down through some gravel to see this drainage pipe.

FrozenThe importance of this list is compounded this year by the ice storm and the increased volume of debris that was created when many trees froze and had their branches break off. As such, your home may require more attention than previous winters. Although the frigid temperatures of late may have you curling up with a hot cup of tea and a good book instead of heading outdoors, removing the debris from your yard should take priority – but do make sure to bundle up (pun intended).

Over the course of the next few days the temperature is set to increase dramatically (from -22C on Monday to +4C on Saturday), and meteorologists are calling for rain. This means the snow and ice clogging your gutters, downspouts, and window wells is going to melt. This snow-melt, combined with the rain, can seep into your basement if it is not properly directed away from your home, so now is the time to take action. Being mindful of the above-mentioned areas should help to reduce the potential for water damage in your home.

Do you have a Home Inspection issue or concern that you haven’t seen addressed here? Comment below or find us on Twitter or Facebook and let us know. We’ll do our best to help out.

Topics: Winter Tips, Home Inspector Advice, Frozen Pipes, Water Damage, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips, Extreme Weather

Homeowner Tips for Dealing with Power Outages in Cold Weather

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Dec 31, 2013 9:08:00 AM

Fallen TreeAlthough power has been restored to almost every home in the Greater Toronto Area the effects of the December 21st ice storm still weigh heavily on the minds of many. The extreme weather left 350,000 households in the dark for somewhere between one and ten days, depending on their location – this meant that unfortunately, many were without power during Christmas.

While several individuals have tried to put a silver lining on this cloud saying the outage allowed their families to bond without distractions, for their communities to strengthen in the face of adversity, and that it helped them to gain a new appreciation for their neighbours; more than anything last week’s storm was, simply put, a disaster.

Despite admirable efforts from Toronto Hydro and their respective counterparts, the situation faced by most of Southern Ontario for the last week has been a dire one. As many suffered feelings of uncertainty and frustration amidst chattering teeth, we would encourage homeowners to see this storm as a wakeup call. Are you prepared for power outages in freezing temperatures? With what we’ve seen in the last week, the answer for most is no. While this ice storm was an anomaly, it’s still important to take a page from the scout’s handbook and make sure you’re prepared. Please enjoy our winter outage tips below.

Freezing Pipes

Frozen PinAs long as the home is above freezing, pipes should continue to operate smoothly. If the house temperature drops below freezing, issues will develop. In these instances we advise running a bit of water at every tap. This keeps the pipes from freezing since city water is roughly 10° C (50° F). Remember also that traps below every fixture and floor drain are also at risk of freezing, so please think critically and act cautiously if you experience an outage for multiple days in extremely cold weather.

For the most part it doesn’t make sense to shut off the water altogether and drain the pipes, unless the house is below freezing for an extended period of time or if the home is vacant. Proper winterization is difficult for most homeowners to achieve, as it calls for adding antifreeze or blowing out all the traps below fixtures and floor drains, as well as protecting toilet bowls, dishwasher drains and any other place where water collects.

If the situation is long term, shutting off water and draining pipes may prevent flooding damage if pipes burst. There may be localized damage to areas where water was not drained or protected with antifreeze, but in severe conditions that may be the best you can hope for. If your home runs on a hot water boiler and radiators, turning it off will probably leave water in low spots. Again, expect local damage.

Adding Heat

Focus on heating just one room, preferably one with little or no exterior wall surface. You will not be able to heat the whole house. Insulate the doors and windows of the room you’re heating as much as possible.

Operating gas or wood burning fireplaces will add heat. Gas fireplaces are typically more efficient than wood fireplaces. Wood stoves are much more efficient than open fireplaces.

Candles used for light or heat, create the risks of both starting a fire and inhaling toxic gases such as carbon monoxide. Have a battery powered smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector on hand if possible.

Do NOT bring your BBQ inside and run it. Do NOT try to use your gas stove for heat. If you have a gas or propane generator, run it outdoors; NEVER indoors. The carbon monoxide gas from these devices may kill you.

Electricity From Vehicles

Tree Issue

Power inverters can provide 120 volt power for charging phones, tablets, etc. from your car. Some vehicles have 120 volt receptacles you can plug into directly. You can also purchase inverters that plug into cigarette lighters and convert the DC power in your vehicle to AC power for household plugs.

The amount of power available depends on the inverter and is typically quite limited. For example, don’t try to run electric heaters from your car. The electricity you use will drain the battery unless the vehicle engine is running. If you do decide to use your car to power some of your smaller electronics, start your car regularly so you don’t run the battery down. Some inverters have a low battery warning – if yours does, make use of it, as it could save you a major headache.

Make sure to check out our articles on Avoiding Frozen Pipes and Furnace Maintenance for additional winter weather tips for your home.

We would like to thank the Hydro employees who worked around the clock and gave up their holidays to bring light to ours. The compassion shown by so many reminds us all of how fortunate we are to live in this community.

For more information on emergency preparation and what to do during a power outage, please visit www.getprepared.gc.ca.

Topics: Winter Tips, Home Inspector Advice, Frozen Pipes, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips, Extreme Weather

Put That in Your Pipe & Smoke It: Avoiding Frozen Pipes

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Dec 23, 2013 3:00:00 PM

Record low temperatures have been sweeping across Canada and beyond – Egypt received its first snowfall in over a century! With winter weather warnings aplenty and serious snow accumulation, it’s fair to say most folks are feeling frozen. On these -16˚degrees days, it’s definitely function over fashion as you decide what to wear in the morning. Thick socks, thermal underwear, and your warmest winter accessories are a requirement for heading outdoors. Appropriate attire will help to protect you from frostbite, windburn, and hypothermia.

This weekend we saw an ice storm fall on one of the busiest travel and shopping weekends of the year. In Toronto alone, over 200,000 customers were still without power as of 8:00 a.m. this morning. As cleanup crews work around the clock to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers in the Greater Toronto Area, the city is bracing for another deep freeze. Weather specialists are predicting that temperatures will drop to -11 overnight, and with the cold comes a reminder that this time of year can bring major issues to your home in the way of freezing and leaking pipes.

  Extreme weather causes havoc in Toronto                                   
Winter weather causes wear and tear on your home and its systems. One of the more affected areas, or at least the more noticeably affected areas, can be your pipes. When pipes freeze more often than not they split, which results in leakage. Leaking supply piping can be very dramatic. Because the piping is pressurized, a leak can do a lot of damage quickly. If there is no functional floor drain, a leaking supply pipe can flood a house.

A flood the result of a leaky pipe

There is a risk of freezing and leakage if pipes are installed in unheated areas, even if the pipe is insulated. This includes:

  • Cold rooms
  • Crawlspaces
  • Garages
  • Attics
  • Any other unheated space

Check to see if tub and shower fixtures are installed against exterior walls; there may be pipes inside which could freeze. In cold climates, it is good practice to have pipes installed through the floor away from the exterior wall for all fixtures. Pay special attention to this with do-it-yourself renovation work – sometimes what seems like the most convenient place to run piping can come back to bite you, or rather, leak on you. If there are pipes running through unheated spaces, electric heating cables can be installed to prevent a problem.

Looking for more renovation advice and maintenance tips? Our Home Reference Book is a great source. Free with every Carson Dunlop Home Buyer’s Inspection it’s a valuable addition to every homeowner’s library.              

Topics: Winter Tips, Homeowners, Frozen Pipes, Water Damage, Homeowner Tips, Extreme Weather

The Home Inspection Event of 2014

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Dec 20, 2013 11:59:00 AM

Conferece

We’d like to encourage Home Inspectors from all over to join us for The Carson Dunlop Conference: What Home Inspectors Need to Know. Come to Toronto for a great weekend on all things Home Inspection on March 1 & 2, 2014.

Education sessions and continuing education credits, engaging topics, and valuable networking opportunities makes this a must-attend event for experienced inspectors, new inspectors, and students.

Speakers Include:

  • Alan Carson - President, Carson Dunlop
  • Graham Clarke - VP of Engineering, Carson Dunlop
  • Richard Weldon - President, CDW Engineering
  • Alden Gibson - Lead Inspector, Inspections by Gibson
  • Bob Thoburn - Director, Builder Relations at Tarion Warranty Company

EVENT DETAILS

WHERE: The International Plaza Hotel in Toronto

WHEN: March 1 & 2, 2014

Price: $359*

 

>> We're also having a Horizon Training Event for new and advanced users on February 28, 2014.

>> CDW Engineering will be holding their renowned Commercial Inspection Course on March 3-5, 2014.

 

PRICING  

 

Regular Price

Early Bird Price*

 

Carson Dunlop Conference
March 1 & 2, 2014 

 

$395

$359

 

Horizon Training Event
February 28, 2014 

 

$69 per session or
$110 when you sign up for both 

$59 per session or
$100 when you sign up for both

 

Commercial Inspection Course
March 3-5, 2014 

 

 $2,160 $1,495 

 *Early bird offer available when you register before January 31, 2014.

To learn more and register please call 800-268-7070, email info@carsondunlop.com, or download our registration form.

 

Topics: Home Inspection, Promotion/Contest, Home Inspectors, Continuing Education, Carson Dunlop, Home Inspection Training

Keeping Your Home Safe & Festive This Holiday Season

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Dec 17, 2013 11:39:00 AM

December Newsletter

GraphOne of the many joys of the holiday season is decorating your home. Religious celebrations aside, December is about spending time with loved ones and toasting the successes and achievements of the past year. Making your space warm and inviting for family, friends, and colleagues is an integral part of this process - and beyond that, it's really fun.

We know that it's easy to get wrapped up in wreaths, lighting, and ornaments, so we want to take this moment to encourage homeowners to practice safe decorating this season. (And no, we're not just talking about making sure you've got mints by your mistletoe). So what exactly do we mean? We've found that atmosphere can trump electrical and fire safety, and that between visiting and being visited by others, basic maintenance can get overlooked. Outlined below are our top five December Décor Do's & Don'ts.  

1. Don't leave your candles unattended

It may seem like common sense, but with what feels like a million things on your "To Do" list, it doesn't take a lot to get distracted. So when your hot cocoa break gets interrupted by a frantic call from your mother-in-law, remember to extinguish your candles before you answer the phone. This is a pretty serious fire hazard that doesn't take much to avoid, so make sure to blow out your candles before leaving a room.

2. Don't keep your holiday lights near paper and plush materials

Whether they are on your tree, around your windows, or on your banisters, it's important to keep your indoor lights clear from debris that can catch fire. When left on for several hours the tiny bulbs on your holiday lights can create a lot more heat than you'd expect, so keeping them away from flammable objects is important. Although modern holiday lights are definitely safer than their predecessors, taking this extra precaution is still a good idea. 

3. Do put your outside lights on timers

TimerIf they aren't already, neighborhoods will soon be aglow with lights framing homes and twinkling in trees, real and inflatable snowmen, and other festive creatures wishing passers-by happy holidays. Turning your front yard into a winter wonderland can be a blast, but the majority of modern decorations require electricity to function, and keeping the juice flowing all night is less than ideal. Save money and the environment by using a timer for your outdoor electronics. Plug your decorations into the timer, and set it to turn on and off at specific times. We usually set ours to turn on just after sunset, and off around 10 or 11pm. Timers can help to deter burglars by making them think you're home when you aren't, and they save you the trouble of fumbling with plugs late at night in your pajamas. They typically cost around $30 and are available at most hardware stores.

4. Do check and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

With all the seasonal cooking and baking your kitchen will see this month it's important to make sure you're prepared for an emergency. You wear oven mitts to protect your hands, do the same for your house by properly maintaining your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You should test your detectors on a monthly basis to see whether they have working batteries. You must have at least one smoke detector on each floor, but we recommend more. While there aren't standard rules for carbon monoxide detectors, and you might not even have one, we treat them similarly to smoke detectors and do encourage homeowners to have at least one in their homes.  

5. Do shovel your driveway and salt your walkway

IcyIt's no wonder "Let It Snow" will be playing in stores, at school concerts, and in living rooms all season long - snow is one of the quintessential pieces of the holiday puzzle. Unfortunately, it can be more than festive, it presents a hazard too. Winter weather is wonderful, but it's also dangerous. Avoid getting stuck in your driveway, or slipping down your walkway, by shoveling and salting regularly. These chores are a bit of a pain in the neck, but they are far superior to you or others falling due to prolonged snow and ice accumulation. 

Home maintenance and safety is valuable year-round, but as this is one of the traditionally busiest times for many, we felt it pertinent to reinforce these concerns. 

There are a lot of do's and don'ts this season, but perhaps this biggest is don't drink and drive. Please stay safe and responsible. 

Holiday Greeting

Topics: Winter Tips, Home Inspector Advice, Monthly Newsletters, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips, Newsletter, Home Safety

This is Major Tom to Pest Control

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Dec 10, 2013 9:24:00 AM

Fun In The SnowCold weather brings with it many things – smiles to skiers and snowboarders, outdoor rinks for skaters, and supplies for snowman creators. Unfortunately, it can also bring pests into your home. As the temperature drops, rodents begin to seek warmth and shelter to sustain them for the winter months. It’s important to make sure they don’t find a way into your home.

Most people with in-laws will confirm you can’t always control your home’s guest list. But don’t fret, you can protect yourself and your property from these furry creatures. To help combat this potential invasion, we encourage homeowners to heed advice from our resident pest control experts and Specialty Service partner: Orkin Canada

Denying Access: Entry Points

Window

Rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter, and mice only need a hole the size of a pencil. The smallest openings in your home can serve as rodent entry points. Common places rodents use to access your home include cracks in your foundation and around doors and windows.

Check the exterior of your home and seal any unnecessary openings with weather-resistant sealant reinforced with steel or copper wool so rodents can’t gnaw through. Make sure doors and windows are flush against their frames and the sill, and use weatherstripping to fill any gaps. 

Deterring Interest: Preventative Action

Sealing entry points is just one step homeowners can take. Rodents come to your home in search of shelter and food. Implementing measures related to food storage and cleanliness will also help to keep your home pest-free. Consider:

  • Storing food in tightly sealed containers, preferably made of tin or plastic
  • Cleaning up water spills immediately
  • Vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping regularly to eliminate food waste and water sources
  • Keeping trash cans tightly sealed and disposing of trash often

We're Not Alone: What If It's Too Late?

If you suspect the worst has already happened and you might have rodents in your home, look for the following signs:

  • Droppings - Mouse droppings are about the size of a grain of rice and rat droppings are about the size of a raisin.
  • Gnaw marks - Rats and mice gnaw even when they're full, so look out for places in your home that appear to be chewed or gnawed, particularly around cracks and holes.
  • Rub markings - Rodents feel protected when they crawl along baseboards or pipe openings, so pay close attention to those areas.

Evicting Unwanted Tenants: It's Never Too Late

MouseIf you encounter signs of infestation, the end isn’t nigh, but do make sure to keep safety as your first priority when addressing the issue. Rodents carry dirt and disease, so please don’t touch them or attempt to resolve the problem on your own. Instead, contact a pest management provider immediately – they will help you with remediation and set up a proactive program to keep these pests at bay year-round.

If you have any questions or concerns about the presence of rodents, termites, or other pests in your home, reach out to Orkin Canada and they can advise you further.

We have partnered with a number of reputable and reliable companies who offer services outside the scope of a Home Inspection. Our Specialty Service providers help to assess issues such as: mold, indoor air quality, asbestos, well and septic systems, and pools. To learn more, please call 800-268-7070.

Topics: Home Inspection, Home Inspector Advice, Carson Dunlop, Specialty Services, Homeowner Tips, Pest Control

Forgotten Fall Chores: Leaf Raking

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Dec 3, 2013 1:15:00 PM

Rake Your LeavesIs it December already? Winter has snuck up on many this year, and although most of us are snow-free so far, that’s no excuse to fall behind on your seasonal maintenance. Yard work can be hard work, but it’s important to rake your leaves or you may find your home suffering Old Man Winter’s wrath.

They may be great for crunching and make excellent piles for jumping, but fallen leaves require some attention. Many rake their leaves to keep their yards looking spick and span, but leaf-raking is more for function than fashion. Undisturbed foliage presents more problems for homeowners than a nasty glance from a neighbor.

A well-raked yard helps protect:

  • Downspouts & gutters
  • Window wells
  • Grading

By ensuring these areas are appropriately maintained, homeowners are ultimately helping to prevent water-related damage. Consider each area.

Downspouts & Gutters

GuttersWhen downspouts and gutters are clogged with leaves that have collected due to an unraked yard, they stop functioning properly and hold water instead of sending it away from the home. This increases the opportunity for water to enter the home. To learn more about downspout and gutter maintenance, including the ideal length of a downspout, check out our article on Downspout Care.

Window Wells

Should a window well become filled with leaves, not only does it impact the amount of light a basement receives, but it becomes easier for water to become trapped in the well. This trapped water will likely seep into the foundation of the home and into the basement. Learn more about keeping your window wells functioning correctly, including our recommendation for gravel, from our article on Maintaining Your Window Wells.

Grading

To help combat the fallibility of foundation systems, as none are completely impermeable to water, it is important to keep the soil around your home dry. Clusters of errant, unraked leaves, provide a great environment to trap water in your home’s surrounding dirt. The moisture from wet ground close to your foundation can easily become moisture in your foundation. To learn more about keeping the soil around your home dry, including a discussion on slope, check out our article on Proper Grading.

As you can see, raking leaves has less to do with aesthetics than many believe. It may seem like a task you can leave to the last minute, but we’d like to encourage homeowners to take faster action. Clean your yard and protect your home. We’re committed to helping homeowners stay safe, comfortable and dry year-round. If you have a Home Inspection related topic you’d like us to address, please comment below or find us on Twitter and we’ll do our best to help out.

Topics: Winter Tips, Home Inspection, Home Inspector Advice, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips

Winter Window Woes

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Nov 26, 2013 9:52:00 AM

November Newsletter

November PollAs the days get colder and the nights become longer, hibernation starts to seem more and more appealing. Beyond the necessity of extra layers and the hustle and bustle of the ever-approaching holiday season, heating bills alone make many want to sleep until April. 

Unfortunately, most don't have the kind of flexibility needed to nap the winter away - so how can enduring the coming dim and expensive months be avoided? Aside from heading for a warmer climate, making a few adjustments to a somewhat overlooked item in your home can have a major impact on your comfort this season. This November, it's time to think about your windows.  

During the winter, windows have the potential to be both an enemy and an ally. They let light into your home, but they can also bring cold air, frost, and condensation. However, with a few considerations and minor adjustments, homeowners can get more friend than foe out of their windows.

Over the course of a subzero night, windows, (especially those older, single-glazed, metal-framed ones), will often become very frosty. While wonderfully artistic and fun for kids to scratch their names into, frost does render the window particularly useless: can't open it or look through it. This frosting isn't exclusive to older windows; windows all over will be exhibiting varying degrees of the same effect. Even some newer windows will sweat heavily or frost up. 

Frosty WindowFrosty windows are a result of condensing moisture in the home. Vapor droplets in the air that come in contact with the cold surfaces of the window will, if the surfaces are cold enough, cool down into water droplets and precipitate onto the cold surfaces. If this happens all night long, there can be considerable accumulation of water. In some cases, the water drops freeze shortly after forming on the window, causing ice to build up. 

To help correct this issue, attention should be paid to the amount of moisture in your home and the interior temperature of the window glass and frame. Moisture cannot be eliminated from your home entirely, but it can be reduced.

This can be achieved by:

  • Turning your furnace humidifier down or off
  • Ensuring your clothes dryer is venting properly
  • Using kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans when cooking and showering
  • Opening a window periodically when things feel "stuffy"

We recognize that it's only possible to do so much, and if your windows are cold enough the sweat will still form - which is why we also encourage homeowners to warm up the surface temperature of the window glass and frame. 

If the window is old, it may be drafty. This will be apparent in cold air whistling through around the edges. Replacing or improving weatherstripping, a relatively easy DIY project, can often solve a draft problem. If the room has only one pane of glass between it and the outside, install a storm window. This will warm up the interior pane. Of course, the frost may simply form on the inside of the storm window anyway. With a newer double-glazed window, unless it's very cheap or very poorly installed, the glass and frame temperature should be pretty reasonable.   

The trick now is to assess where the heat source is in the room. In a perfect world, the heat for the room is delivered at floor level right below the window. The idea is that the warm air, either from a furnace register or convecting off a radiator, washes up the window, keeping the glass and frame nice and warm, reducing or eliminating condensation. 

A related problem in many homes is the window treatments. California shutters look great and can block out light, but when closed they also block warm air from reaching the window, leading to condensation in cold spells. The solution is to open up the louvers, or open the shutters. Many blinds and drapes have the same effect. When closed, find a way to prop them out at the bottom so that the warm air can go up between them and the window. 

If you've tried everything, and still you have a window or two that sweat uncontrollably, the low-rent hardware store plastic sheeting will work nicely. This remains the cheapest solution for your windows. A better, but more expensive solution? Replacing those old windows with new multi-glazed coated windows.

As a professional Home Inspection Company, at Carson Dunlop our aim is to help homeowners stay warm, safe, and dry. We believe that knowledge is the best tool when it comes to protecting the biggest investment of your life: your home. If you have a Home Inspection topic you'd like us to address in future Newsletters or on our blog, make sure to comment below or Tweet us @carsondunlop - we'll do our best to help out.

Topics: Winter Tips, Home Inspector Advice, Monthly Newsletters, Carson Dunlop, Newsletter

Buying a House? Our Home Inspection Packages Can Help

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Nov 19, 2013 3:17:00 PM

Learn About Your HomeWe know that buying a home is a complex process; there are many facets to consider before making this type of investment. Beyond deciding whether or not you like the home and if you can afford it, there are several other questions worth asking:

  1. How are the systems of the home functioning? Is it in good overall condition?
  2. Are there any moisture issues or leakages occurring in the home?
  3. Was it ever used as a grow house or meth lab? Are there homes in the area that were used this way?
  4. How are the local schools? Where do they rank on a regional and provincial level?
  5. What amenities are located near the home?
  6. What political riding will you become a part of? Who will be representing you?

Although some of these issues will have more bearing on the decision to purchase the property than others, all will have some impact on your comfort in the home and neighborhood.

HomeVerifiedSo how do you get all the information you need without adding more to your “To Do” list? Some of the inquiries above require a lot of research to determine. Let us help. Our Home Buyer’s Inspection enhanced packages now includes a HomeVerified Home History Report which will provide information on: grow house and meth lab records for the area, local school rankings, neighborhood amenities, and political representation.

This Home History Report is in addition to:

  • A summary page with key findings
  • Improvement recommendations for conditions (with time frames and cost estimates)
  • Photos and color illustrations for clarity
  • A Home Reference Book to help understand how your home works
  • A check for manufacturer recalls on appliances through RecallChek
  • Free enrollment in the Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association
  • A Thermal Imaging Inspection to help identify hidden moisture issues and leakage

Please visit our website or call 800-268-7070 to learn more about the different Home Buyer’s Inspection packages we offer and the benefits of thermography, performing a check for recalled appliances, and Home History Reports.


Topics: Home Inspection, Home Inspector Advice, Carson Dunlop